The MythTV Project Box mk1

Note: This page is still under construction, and is not completely finished. More will be added.

I’ve been working on a project box to create a decent media center PC. Of course I used Gentoo Linux, my preferred distro. So assume for the moment you got the base install working.

Component wise this is what I have.

  • Mini-Fly mATX case.
  • A-Bit NF-95 939 AMD64 Motherboard
  • AMD64 3800+ 939 proc
  • 1GB DDR400 ram
  • 160GB and 300GB SATA HDD’s
  • Nvidia 7800GS Video card
  • Creative Audigy SE Card
  • Hauppauge Win-TV PVR-150 card
  • Lite-On DVD+-RW

I won’t go into detail with the default system install. I used Gentoo, whose AMD64 install guide is perfect for what I want to do. Your mileage may vary depending on your distro choice. I prefer Gentoo for this sort of installation because we are dealing with a system that will live and breathe in my entertainment center. With that in mind a very minimal install is all we really need. Follow your distro’s documentation for how to install certain hardware. This little RTFM of mine will assume you have done all of that as there are too many distros to modify this for.

  • Video Output

One of the first things you will need to figure out is how you are going to get your media center to connect to your TV or other entertainment center systems. I decided that with the capability of the Nvidia card to go component input. This is by nature the best option for quality of picture, regardless of if you are using an HDTV or a normal TV. Just hook it up using the included dongle with your card and you are half way there. The other have is getting X11 to display in proper color, or at all. Depending on your setup you will need to set options in your device section for various things.

Option “TVOutFormat” “COMPOSITE” or “SVIDEO”
Option “TVStandard” “NTSC-M”

This will work on most systems. Assuming all you want to do is hook into a normal TV with a normal composite video plug that should solve all your problems. Me on the other hand, I wanted best quality with what I had, especially since I had the component inputs. Remember, Standard Definition TV’s won’t benefit from this too much. However, if you are intending in the future to pick up a HDTV, then this will be the best way. Not only will you have your TVout setup ready cabling wise, but all you will have to do is change one setting in xorg.conf. That setting is the TVStandard setting.

Option “TVStandard” “HD480i”
#other settings include HD720i HD720p HD1020i HD1020p

That setting is good enough to get your SD tv working with component output. When you get an HDTV all you have to do is change that setting to the HD setting your TV is capable of. This assumes you are going through an entertainment center with things like maybe an XBox hooked into it as well. Depending on your choice then you may not need a receiver at all. If you end up with a TV that supports DVI or HDMI all you need is a cord long enough to pull it off.

  • Remote Control of System

Now this is one of the more difficult issues I’m having at the moment. Getting LIRC to work. First off remember this is from the point of view of installing on a Gentoo based system. If you are using something like Suse or Ubuntu you might need less setup or more depending. There are a few config files sitting around for the Hauppauge remote that are all good and work well. Fact is though if you are using digital cable and can’t get your IR Blaster working you may have some major issues. The biggest is that your media center won’t be able to stay in sync with your cable box. So what is the solution?

For the time being the solution is simply treat your Myth-Box like it’s a normal VCR. Set when you want to record on your digital cable then manually set the recording as well. For now this is the best fix I can offer, but if you have a better one I’m more then willing to try it out. Needless to say I’d very much like to see the IRBlaster working like it should so I don’t have to use more then one remote. Except of course for OnDemand stuff, that’s one thing I don’t mind. Of course you could say no thanks to OnDemand and digital cable and just go straight coax input. This removes the remote control issue completely for you. Not exactly interested in that though, but we’ll see as we go. Any assistance with a Gentoo centric idea for IR blaster is appreciated.
Fact is though that sometimes you just need a keyboard and mouse for this sort of setup. A good wireless keyboard and mouse is the ticket in this case, as you need to be able to title manual recordings. Follow your distros instructions for getting a wireless keyboard working. I purchased a cheap Logitech Keyboard/Mouse combo from Wal-Mart, which has so far served my purposes perfectly.

Everything else at this point is completely up to you. The MythDVD,Video,Music, and other plugins are all very nice for your media center experience. Add what you want in accordance with your OS of choice.

  • Contributors

Chad ‘Exodist’ Granum [email protected]